Posted Online: Dec. 02, 2011, 11:36 pm
Overton, UT hang on to win at Quincy
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By Matt Schuckman, Special to Sports
QUINCY -- Marc Polite knows better than anyone just how tough Damon Overton is.
Photo: Steve Bohnstedt / Quincy Herald-Whig|
Quincy's Martin Kvitle, right, and United Township's DJ McDowell reach for a loose ball during Friday night basketball action at Blue Devil Gym in Quincy. The Panthers won 58-56.
That's why the United Township boys' basketball coach puts the game in his senior point guard's hands when things get tight.
"He's been through me benching him, yelling at him, putting him back out there, benching him again," Polite said. "He's been through a lot with me. He has a lot of war wounds. He's a tough kid. He wanted the ball at the end, which is what we wanted him to do."
In the final 34.8 seconds Friday night, Overton wouldn't let go of it.
He made six consecutive free throws, holding Quincy at bay as the Panthers picked up a 58-56 victory in the Western Big 6 Conference opener at Blue Devil Gym.
"It all pays off," Overton said. "When I was on the bench my sophomore year and junior year, it really angered me a little bit. But I learned from my mistakes. I have to step up as a player. I didn't step up back then, but now I'm stepping up and being a leader."
That's the case with UT's senior trio.
Tayvian Johnson finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds, six steals and two blocked shots, while D.J. McDowell had nine points and four assists as the three UT seniors scored 13 of the Panthers' 15 points in the fourth quarter.
"I'm confident I can knock my free throws down at the end of tight games like that," Overton said. "Last year, I wasn¹t a very good free throw shooter. I worked all summer. Now, I go to the line and knock them down."
That's the benefit of experience.
"Their senior leadership really was important for them tonight," Quincy coach Sean Taylor said. "Juniors or sophomores could crack, turn it over, get flustered. When we made a run, they maintained their composure and focus and were really good."
It helped to play with the lead. UT (3-2, 1-0) scored eight of the game's first 10 points, and although Quincy (3-1, 0-1) answered and tied the game at eight with 3:53 to go in the first quarter, Johnson buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2:39 to go to give the Panthers the lead for good.
"Our kids did a good job of establishing some momentum early," Polite said. "We tried to make them play from behind the whole time. That's the best-case scenario you can do here. ... Our gameplan coming in here was to try to land that first punch and they hold on for your life. Fortunately, we were able
to hold on at the end."
Johnson had a lot to do with that. His defense on Quincy's DeAngelo Dean, who was held to 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting, and his disruption of the passing lanes led to 22 turnovers for Quincy. He also challenged Dean's 3-point attempt coming out of a timeout with 12.2 seconds left in regulation and UT leading 56-53.
Dean's 3-pointer was long off the back of the rim, but Quincy's Cole Abbey snared the long rebound and hoisted a desperation 3-point attempt that was off the mark. Overton covered up the rebound and was fouled with 1.9 seconds remaining. He made the last two free throws to seal it.
"A lot of times that goes underappreciated," Polite said of Johnson's defense. "I've been really happy with how he's matured."